Listening is Hard

Listening

Listening

As an intelligent business owner and entrepreneur in the 21st century, you are already very aware of the importance of listening to your customers, prospects and audience (your Visitors / Audience / Customers / Community (VACC): you can read more about what this looks like here …..). “Listen” is, however, a word that is subject to as many interpretations as there are ears…
Going a bit deeper, what kinds of listening are there that you can leverage?
Definitions of types of listening are as varied as there are authors of articles, books and consultancies whose purpose is to guide you to a solution that works for you and your business….a solution that results in the kind of success you’re looking for: that loyalty-balance of relationship quality and profitability, with credibility overall. It’s kind of like a combination of “the right tool(s) for the right job” and a high-wire balancing act.
  • listen-to-understand
  • listen-to-reply
Since every conversation only has 100% of the time allotted for it, whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours or more, more listening requires less talking.
So what does more listening actually do for this relationship you’re trying to build?
It is the key to building trust.

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Surveys: Tell Me What You REALLY Think!

Survey Results

Survey Results

Surveys are notorious, from both sides of the subject… 

As someone who gets at least a survey per week in my mail, I respond to very few of them. Sometimes it’s because I’m just plain busy when I first see it, and it feels like a drag on my time (the DELETE key is so very tempting…). Other times it comes from a source I almost never hear from, so I wonder why (s)he wants me to give them input now, when I’ve gotten so little from them of value to date. However, when I do respond, it is usually to a person or organization from whom I’ve gotten some kind of value over time, it is tightly proscribed (that is, won’t take longer than a couple of minutes to complete….), and concerns topics that I care about.

As a business owner and blogger, I take these motivations and concerns into account when creating surveys. During the month of November I ran a survey for those who subscribe to my newsletter and regularly read my blog. The single question was:

What are the topics you wish to learn more about to help you in your business? 

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JUNE’S BEST – LinkedIn, Trust, and Making The Most of Your Content

July - Celebrate!

July – Celebrate!

July is upon us, and we here in the States are getting ready for our annual tribute to patriotism, fireworks and barbecues!
June was a bumper crop month for quality content across the digital marketing industry, and I’m only too happy to share the top articles I’ve read:

LinkedIn Ninja Tricks!

LinkedIn Ninja Tricks!

 

 
Facebook seems to get the attention from online sources (granted, cracking the 2 billion users mark is noteworthy…), but many of the businesses I speak with are still kind of scratching their head when it comes to LinkedIn. This top list of tips and tricks from Melonie Dodaro will get you to that next level of skill in using this great professional channel.

Sincerity

Sincerity

 

 
Sincerity and Trust have been the key components for strong customer and business relationships since forever. Building them online isn’t impossible, but it is different. This article introduces some areas of consideration about communication and how you do this. The line between communication and action is pretty clear.

Credibility

Credibility

 

 
Beyond getting found, your website needs to build and maintain your professional credibility. If you’re wondering how a website can do that, then you will find this article Laura Forer of MarketingProfs very, very valuable.

My Community

My Community

 

 
When I speak about online relationships, I refer to the mental model I call VACC (Visitors / Audience / Customers / Community). In this insightful article, Irfan Ahmad digs into how a business can approach this with Facebook Groups, an underutilized resource for most businesses. If you take this on, you’re ALREADY in the lead, since chances are your competition ISN’T doing it!

Social Media Posts

Social Media Posts

 
 
So, that post from last Tuesday blew the doors off in Shares and Comments! WOO-HOO!!!!! Now, how can you leverage what was obviously a Great Piece of Content again and take advantage of it’s quality and virality? Here are 5 ways to look at….

 

Reuse That Content!

Reuse That Content!

As a follow-on to the previous article, how do you take that premier article you’ve written and reuse (or “slice & dice”…) it in such a way that you can make the most of it. Here are nine ways you could repurpose it and reach oven more of an interested audience. Remember, everyone has a preferred way of communicating, and by doing this you are making practical use of that fact!

Personas Are NOT the Audience!

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Personas

Personas

I read an exceptional article by Mitch Joel recently entitled The Audience (formerly known as the Audience). In it he writes about how perceptions and standard audience research (that leads to the creation of personas or avatars for marketing purposes…) are actually quite flawed. The challenge to fixing this or working through it, is in the ways they are flawed.

Here’s a scenario:

You are developing a new product for your client base that is aimed at stay-at-home moms. Immediately, a persona of the stay-at-home mom is put together in your mind’s eye…

  • Female
  • early 30s – early 40s
  • Spouse / Partner works out of the home, 9-5.
  • Wears casual / workout clothing for comfort and ease of care (the kids are ALWAYS spilling things…)
  • Drinks a LOT of coffee
  • Perpetually exhausted with too much to do
  • Drives a “family” vehicle (mini-van / SUV) that is full of child-related stuff
  • Gets together with friends regularly (with children) to chat and commiserate.
Do you see this stay-at-home mom persona in your mind’s eye? 

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How Can Responsiveness Keep You Out of Trouble?

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Facebook Business Responsiveness

Facebook Business Responsiveness

Responsiveness is critical to customer experience. If you get an email or see a post to your company Facebook page with a request or comment from a customer (or potential customer…), letting it go for awhile (or altogether…) is a recipe for TROUBLE! The speed by which you respond not only convinces that person that you’re listening, but that you actually care what they are bringing to you. However, there’s a lot more to this than speed…

How you respond and your tone prove how you treat this as an opportunity. You can not only build a better relationship with this person, but provide an online record of how professional and customer-centric your company is. I’ve written a lot about your VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community) and how your conversation with each differs and builds toward the kind of relationship that benefits all parties. Defined as “fair exchange“, this is a great relationship, as both parties derive immense value from the framework, and all work done on it only serves to strengthen it. The stronger the foundation, the easier it can be to get past the niceties of the regular communications and unveil greater authenticity and transparency. This is particularly true of bad news you need to deliver.

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What’s the Best Social Media Channel for my Business?

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Which Social Media Channels?

Which Social Media Channels?

A small business owner asked me this question recently: Does it matter which social media channels my business focuses on?

This is a great question!
It does matter from a couple of angles:
  • You need to be where your customers are.
  • Focus is crucial, since each additional channel requires resources.
Let me elaborate….

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OPEN UP: Do You Short Circuit A Valuable Conversation?

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Angry Meme

Wrong Kind of Meme

Like many Americans, I have begun paying a lot closer attention to “the news” online in the run-up to the election this week. I have chosen to visit The Guardian (US. Edition) as a primary news site, since they are globally known as a credible news source and run articles ASIDE FROM ELECTION NEWS, which is a bit of a breather from US – based news organizations. Even their view of our election offers some deeper articles about the tides that effect both sides and all constituencies here, which is refreshing and gets me to think….always a good thing!

They published an article this past week entitled “Meme warfare: how the power of mass replication has poisoned the US election.”  In this article Douglas Haddow writes a bit about the evolution of memes on the Internet and how they have evolved. He notes that they can be fun, stupid and/or infuriating. What they are NOT is helpful in developing debate or conversation. Here is his definition of memes (so we can all know what exactly we’re thinking about here…):

“Memes – from the Greek for “that which is imitated” – were once defined as being self-replicating units of culture. This included anything that could be learned, remembered and spread from one brain to another, such as the concept of god all the way to the popular Budweiser “ Wazzup” catchphrase.
 
Through the Internet  the idea moved from the conceptual sphere into the viscous reality of data and pixels, transforming it into something more traceable: a segment of media that is copied rapidly. This includes images, text, video, a combination of all three and sometimes real-world actions.”

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TOP POSTS for October – Crammed with Proven Treats!

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With October comes the oncoming onslaught of the Holidays! This brings into focus how to get the most out of your social media and digital marketing so your business can go seriously into the BLACK for the season. The top articles for the month cover everything from SEO to Facebook Referrals and, in the season of BUYING AND SELLING, whether caring really matters.
Optimize Video

Optimize Video

Unless you haven’t been online in the past, oh, ten years or so, you are aware of just how popular to users and critical to businesses video is now. There is much more to leveraging video for you business than a quick snippet taken from your phone or a flash report on Facebook Live. Since video is so pervasive, you need to optimize your content….and one size does NOT fit every channel!

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AUGUST SAMPLER: 5 Informative and Imaginative Posts For You!

The end of summer is upon us. These diverse articles will tickle your imagination and start you thinking about what your autumn online activities might be!

10 Social Media Myths

10 Social Media Myths

 Many times I must slip into “Mythbusters” Mode when speaking to groups about what’s real, what’s imaginary, and what’s merely perceived when it comes to social media. These 10 myths are not comprehensive, but they do cover many of the common misperceptions. If you have more questions, let me know!

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FOCUS: Are They Twist Ties or Trust Ties?

Trust

Trust is more than a High Five!

Building trust is vital and required.
If you aren’t found to be trustworthy, that pretty much puts the end to having the kind of impact you want to have, whether personally or in business. While the same goes for those around you, you are the only one that can work on your own trustworthiness.

This week I read another mind-provoking article by Valeria Maltoni entitled “What Do We Do About Trust?”.  This led me to get a copy of a book mentioned in the article, The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman, which I devoured in a couple hours. If you have a couple of hours (plane trip, hot afternoon on the patio, etc.) I recommend this. It is relatively short, very well written and focused on the topic in a way that you can absorb and use.

I am utterly fascinated by all of the relationship, network, cognitive and behavioral topics that surround us as human beings in our society and how they influence and guide our businesses and personal lives. Whether psychological studies into why we act the ways we do as they apply and “infect” other areas of study (like Behavioral Economics…how this influences how we actually make choices, both as business owners and consumers, and being aware of the WHY of these actions), to the kinds of thought and work that can make your business more effective, including marketing, VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community) and content research/strategies, along with the kinds of cognitive bias that keep us from being as successful and happy (…frankly…) as we can be. Much like the world of physics crawling toward The Grand Unifying Theory of Everything (not to be confused with the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything…), I feel there are a lot of overlaps and supporting science and studies that lead to A Grand Unifying Theory of How We Actually Think and Get Along.

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